HUNTSVILLE – Freshman Zach Nutall knocked down a team-high 15 points and six other Bearkats reached double-digit figures as the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team (2-0) topped the Southwestern Pirates, 94-56, Thursday night at Johnson Coliseum.
Nutall was masterful through 14 minutes, going 6-for-10 from the field with one three-pointer and two free throws. Fellow newcomer RJ Smith followed right behind Nutall with 13 points and nine boards. Chidozie Ndu recorded a career-high 12 points, Albert Almanza tallied 11 and Cameron Delaney and Marcus Harris each posted 10 points on the night.
Sam Houston’s stellar defense held Southwestern to just 56 points, the least amount of points allowed since the Kats ground out a 57-54 victory over New Orleans last season.
After nearly two minutes of scoreless basketball, Almanza broke open the scoring with a three-pointer from deep in the corner. He followed up one minute later with a slick steal at half-court and slammed it down for another two points. Sam Houston put up four more points in the next few minutes, but it was the Bearkat defense that was the driving force for the squad through the first half.
Sam Houston stood as a brick wall and kept the Pirates off the board for seven full minutes before Trenton Garrett finally put Southwestern up on the board with two points.
Highlighted by eight points from Nutall, the Bearkat bench produced the Kats’ next 15 points to give Sam Houston an early 23-12 advantage.
Returning from the break, Sam Houston made a key stop to regain possession and a jumper from Chad Bowie got the Kats rolling. Southwestern responded with back-to-back treys, but a bucket from Mitchell and four consecutive free-throws from Cameron Delaney put the Kats up 51-29.
Interrupted by just two Pirate free-throws, Harris recorded three consecutive buckets while Nutall and Smith combined for 11 points to stretch Sam Houston’s lead to 30 points.
Newcomers Zaqwaun Matthews and Xavier Bryant both got in on the scoring action and picked up the first points of their Sam Houston careers. With five seconds to go, Ndu put the final nail in the coffin with a monster dunk to solidify Sam Houston’s 94-56 win.
Defensively, the Kats tallied five blocks and 57 rebounds. Mitchell was just two points away from his second double-double and RJ Smith was one rebound away from also reaching the benchmark. With the win, the Kats improve to 2-0 on the season.
COMING UP NEXT
The Bearkats are set to begin their five-game road swing in Ruston, La., on Nov. 11 with a 4 p.m. matchup at Louisiana Tech. For more information on the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team, visit gobearkats.com or follow @BearkatsMBB on Twitter.